Wednesday, March 25, 2015

25/3/15: Irish Residential Property Prices Fell Marginally in February

The residential property price index from CSO covering Irish property markets has posted second monthly contraction in February, falling from 80.3 in January to 80.0 last month. With that, y/y on growth rate in Irish residential property prices has slowed from 15.54% in January to 14.94% in February, the first sub-15% reading since September 2014. In effect, property prices in Ireland have now fallen back to the levels between September and October 2014. Cumulated gains in property prices over the last 24 months are now totalling 24.22% or an annualised gain of 11.46%, outpacing growth in the economy by roughly 5-fold.

Based on Nama valuations formula, residential property prices are now somewhere 18.5% below Nama business model expectations.

Prices of all residential properties excluding Dublin  remained static in February at 74.8, same as in January and up 8.25% y/y, marking a slowdown in the y/y growth from 9.20% recorded in January.

The decline in national prices was driven by Dublin prices, which fell for the second month in a row from 82.2 in January to 81.6 in February. This is the lowest index reading since September 2014 and marks a slowdown in y/y growth rates to 21.43% - the slowest rate of growth since April 2014. Still, cumulated expansion in Dublin residential property prices over the last 24 months is blistering 37.6% (annualised rate of 17.3%).

Within Dublin segment:

  • Houses were the driver to the downside in overall property prices, with houses price index for Dublin standing at 86.0 in February 2015, down from 86.9 in January 2015 and back to the levels of September 2014. Y/y rate of growth in Dublin house prices fell from 21.7% in January to 21.1% in February, although over the last 24 months hose prices in Dublin are still up cumulatively 37.6% (+17.3% annualised). 
  • Apartments prices in Dublin rose in index terms to 72.2 in February from 70.8 in January, erasing the declines that took place during Q3-Q4 2014. Cumulated gains in Dublin apartments prices over the last 24 months stand at 37.5% (+17.3% annualised) and y/y prices are up 24.5% - the fastest growth rate in 3 months.
Few charts to illustrate the above trends:

 Lastly, summary of price changes on pre-crisis peak and y/y:

Despite all the talk about the new bubble in house prices in Ireland, three themes remain true:
  1. Property prices are still far below fundamentals-justified levels. In Dublin, undershooting of long-run (inflation-linked) prices is around 26-27%.
  2. Property price increases are worryingly high, especially in the Dublin segment, warranting some ongoing concern; and
  3. Moderation in property prices and downward correction over the last two months, driven by Dublin (but likely to translate into similar outside Dublin with a lag), predicted on this blog before, is a welcome change. However, I suspect we will see renewed increases in property prices later this year, albeit at rates more sustainable in the longer run.

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